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ても / でも (Even If)

ても / でも (Even If)

ても / でも (Even If) Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Conjunction

Essential Meaning: Even if / Although

Construction: 

  • (Verb / い-Adjective / な-Adjective) て-Form + も
    • E.g. はなしても [Even if X speaks]
    • E.g. べても [Even if X eats]
    • E.g. たかくても [Even if X is expensive]
    • E.g. しずかでも [Even if X is quiet]
  • Noun + でも
    • E.g. 先生せんせいでも [Even if X is a teacher]

Notes:

  • ても / でも (Even If) has essentially the same meaning as the English expressions “Even if” or “Even though“. It conveys the idea that X is the case even if Y is the case. Note that the overall tense of the sentence is determined by the final predicate.
    • E.g. 中山なかやまさんはほんってもみません。[Even if Nakayama-san buys books, he doesn’t read them.]
    • E.g. わたし四時間よじかんあるいてもつかれなかった。[Even though I walked for four hours, I didn’t get tired.]
  • The idiomatic expression てもいいですか? is used to request permission for something. The reply would be either yes (はい、いいです。) or no (いいえ、けません。).
    • E.g. A: タバコをってもいいですか。B: はい、いいです。[A: Is it all right if I smoke? B: Yes, it’s all right.]
    • E.g. A: タバコをってもいいですか。B: いいえ、けません。[A: Is it all right if I smoke? B: Not, it’s not.]
  • Question words such as だれ [Who], なに [What], and どこ [Where] can be prefixed to a ても / でも construction to say “No matter X” (i.e. “No matter who“, “No matter what“, “No matter how much“, etc.).
    • E.g. だれはなしても [No matter who X speaks to]
    • E.g. なにはなしても [No matter what X speaks about]
    • E.g. どこではなしても [No matter where X speaks]
    • E.g. いつはなしても [No matter when X speaks]
    • E.g. どうはなしても [No matter how X speaks]
    • E.g. どんなにはなしても [No matter how much X speaks]
  • ても / でも (Even If) is comparable but not identical to けれど and のに (Even Though). けれど and のに (Even Though) are equivalent to the English “Although“, while ても / でも (Even If) is equivalent to the English “Even if“. In other words, ても / でも (Even if) has more of a hypothetical interpretation. One other difference is that けれど and のに (Even Though) can not replace ても / でも (Even If) in a Question Word + ても / でも construction.
    • E.g. 中山なかやまさんはほんってもみません。 [Even if Nakayama-san buys books, he doesn’t read them.] This example comes across as hypothetical. Nakayama-san may or may not actually buy books.
    • E.g. 中山なかやまさんはほんうけれど / のにみません。[Although Nakayama-san buys books, he doesn’t read them.] This example comes across as more literal. Nakayama-san does in fact buy books.
    • E.g. *中山なかやまさんはなにべる けれど / のに [No matter what Nakayama-san eats] けれど and のに (Even Though) can not be used in a Question Word + ても / でも construction.

Example Sentences:

わたしあめってもく。[Even if it rains, I will go.]

わたしさむくてもかける。[Even if it’s cold, I will go out.]

ぼくがトムでもおなじことをしただろう。[Even if I were Tom, I would have probably done the same thing.]

中山なかやまさんはほんってもみません。 [Even if Nakayama-san buys books, he doesn’t read them.]

わたし四時間よじかんあるいてもつかれなかった。[Even though I walked for four hours, I didn’t get tired.]

なにべてもおいしいです。[No matter what I eat, it tastes delicious.]

だれいてもわからなかった。[No matter who I asked, I couldn’t understand.]

A: タバコをってもいいですか。B: はい、いいです。[A: Is it all right if I smoke? B: Yes, it’s all right.]

どんなに丈夫じょうぶでもからだにはをつけたほうがいい。[No matter how strong your body is, you should be careful.]

井上いのうえさんが先輩せんぱいでもぼくははっきりうつもりだ。[Even if Inoue-san is my senior, I intend to speak to him directly.]

WILD Examples:

At 0:50, listen for this line: だけどおおきくなってもすずめはすずめ [However, even when they grow up, a sparrow is just a sparrow.] The idea behind this verse is that the kids are speculating what the baby sparrows will become when they grow up, and the kids conclude that even when the sparrows get big they’ll still just be sparrows.

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